Webinar: Transforming U.S. supply chains to create good jobs

When: May 3, 2021 1:30PM - 2:30PM

One reason U.S. workers’ wages are stagnating is that large firms shifted from doing many activities in-house to buying goods and services from a complex web of other companies. Sometimes this restructuring can lead to innovation if supplier firms specialize in producing complex technologies or processes. But in other cases, firms outsource so they can offload production onto firms with weak bargaining power and thus little ability to compete except by aggressively holding down wages. This “low-road” model for the U.S. economy weakens innovation and suppresses wages, contributing to the erosion of U.S. workers’ standard of living.

A different kind of outsourcing is possible: high-road supply networks that benefit firms, workers, and consumers alike. High-road outsourcing, however, requires overcoming both market and network failures. In this hour-long webinar, economist and Equitable Growth grantee Susan Helper, the Carlton professor of economics at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, presented her research on building high-road supply networks that allow greater collaboration between management and workers, and a set of policy proposals that directly address each of the reasons that outsourcing increases wage inequality.

About Susan Helper

Susan Helper is the Carlton professor of economics at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She was formerly chief economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce and a member of the White House staff. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the impacts of supply chain design and of automation on job quality and on climate change. She is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and co-director of CIFAR’s Project on Innovation, Equity, and the Future of Prosperity. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and her B.A. from Oberlin College in economics, government, and Spanish.

About Boosting Wages for U.S. Workers in the New Economy

This webinar drew from Helper’s essay, “Transforming U.S. supply chains to create good jobs,” which appeared in Equitable Growth’s new book, Boosting Wages for U.S. Workers in the New Economy. The book features 10 essays by leading scholars on policies to raise wages by addressing underlying structures and dynamics in our economy. The essays—developed in partnership with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley and with funding from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust—guide policymakers on how to deliver broadly shared economic prosperity by making wages a key outcome to structural economic policy at the federal and state levels.

Please direct questions related to event content to Labor Market Policy Analyst Kathryn Zickuhr

Please direct questions related to event logistics and technology to Events and Conferences Manager Natalie Intondi.


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